Happily, I was in a position this year to make donations worth around 8 kidneys, mostly split between SCI (deworming: most cost-effective "quality of life"-improving intervention) and GWWC (growing the effective altruism community, so more money is donated wisely in future).
For anyone interested in donating to GiveWell-recommended charities, check out the Effective Altruism hub on how to donate most tax-efficiently in your country. E.g., for UK taxpayers, giving via the GWWC trust allows the charity to claim "Gift Aid" from the UK government -- increasing the size of your donation by 25% at no added cost to you. (Donations directly to SCI are already Gift Aid eligible, but this allows you to donate to other GiveWell-recommended charities in addition.) If GiveWell doesn't process your donation, be sure to fill out a donation report to help them track their "money moved".
My take on GiveWell's top charities:
To save the most lives:
* The Against Malaria Foundation distributes anti-malarial bednets in sub-Saharan Africa, very cost-effectively reducing malaria infection rates and mortality risk especially for children under 5. GiveWell tentatively estimates that AMF saves a life for approximately every £2000 spent.
To most improve quality of life:
* SCI and Deworm the World offer extremely cost-effective deworming treatments for children in sub-Saharan Africa and in India (respectively), Direct benefits are estimated at around £30 per QALY. As a bonus side-effect, this is (perhaps surprisingly) one of the best known ways to improve educational outcomes.
To directly empower the global poor:
* GiveDirectly offers direct cash transfers to some of the poorest families in Kenya and Uganda. (This is in many respects the "safest" option -- the most transparent organization, with the most direct and easy-to-verify impact, though GiveWell estimates that their other top charities are more cost-effective for achieving humanitarian goals.)
* * *
Effective as these charities are, donating to meta-charities may be even better.
* Unrestricted donations to GiveWell will support their continued research, identifying the best charities for the millions of dollars per year that they "move" via the influence of their recommendations.
* Giving What We Can has 700+ members and continues to grow quickly: Each additional member, donating 10% of their income (and possibly influencing others downstream), translates into a huge amount of good done. Funding GWWC's outreach efforts will enable them to increase their membership more quickly. Of course, you should first join yourself if you haven't done so already!
[See also my old advice on effective giving.]
Over to you, dear reader: How many kidney-equivalents were you able to donate this year, where did you donate to, and why? Share it on Facebook, or your own blog if you have one. Sure, some people might find it obnoxious, but that's a small price to pay if it encourages others to join in improving the world.